Silent movies are a thing of the past. Although many laude films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu, they show their age (Duh!). And modern silent films still make waves every now and then (The Artist, with five Oscar wins). Canada-based filmmaker Torin Langen has taken the classic silent film and made something weird, fascinating, and altogether good with his latest film 3 Dead Trick or Treaters.
The title alone sold me. I didn’t even have to watch the trailer to know that I would get some sort of joy out of this micro-budget independent horror flick. Based around Halloween? Sold! Dead kids? Sold! As for the “silent” aspect, we have our constant music (or ambient tones) along with the sounds of the environment and scene playing out in front of us. The only type of human noises we hear come from background music, a jumbled walkie talkie, and grunts, moans, and screams from the brutal murders we get to (have to?) witness.
3DTT (as it shall henceforth be known) is an anthology comprised of four segments – “Fondue,” “Malleus Maleficarum,” “Stash,” and “Delivery” – and a wrap-around. The wrap-around concerns a paper delivery boy who, on his bike, travels through a picturesque, small Canadian town around Halloween. During one of his stops, he notices several newspapers that litter the front porch. He decides to do some investigating and happens upon three backyard burial plots, each marked with a hastily-fashioned wooden cross. A letter is stapled to each marker along with a Halloween mask. Each letter is a confession of sorts, telling who is buried there and what they had done. That’s all I’m going to say, other than there’s a nice little twist/wink to the writer in all of us at the end.
Out of the five different stories, I found only one (“Stash”) to be a little too strange, and maybe a little boring. With that said, I saw the idea and liked what was trying to be conveyed. Other than the basic outline of the wrap-around, I won’t give any type of plot or story or spoilers away concerning the other four segments. What I will say, though, is that “Fondue” is a perfect first segment in that it is the most unsettling (The eyes! The expressions!). “Malleus Maleficarum” is probably the most brutal story with a nod to Salem, MA. That leaves “Delivery” which, in this writer’s humble opinion, is the most fun/disturbing that left me with a “WTF” expression on my face. (Well done, Torin!)
While watching 3DTT, I was most fascinated with the non-dialogue. Personally, I have never seen a movie like this. We’re watching humans in moving pictures, yet they don’t speak. And the strange thing is they don’t HAVE to speak. The non-script/story Langen has written is more than enough for his actors. Think of three of the most famous killers in the horror genre – Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Myers. Besides their size, what is the scariest thing about them? They don’t talk. Good ol’ Leatherface may moan hysterically from time to time, but that’s all the sound we get from those three characters. The killers, victims, and even tertiary characters don’t NEED words. Their actions, eyes, and grimaces/evil grins do the talking for them. As far as Mr. Langen’s direction, he makes sure we as the audience notice those things, because without them, we’re watching a less-than-amateur, shot-on-video, backyard exploitation movie. A home movie this not.
3DTT is a send-up to the Halloween season and Mike Daugherty’s seminal Trick ‘R Treat. It’s movies like this that make me yearn for a year-long autumnal season. Langen (who also acted as Cinematographer, Editor, and Producer) has written a five fascinating tales that are strung together with ease. His direction proves his true craft/talent I believe. I was whisked away to the chilly autumn days of small-town Canada. I always find that when a filmmaker makes the setting part of the cast, I imagine myself being there. In this case, I could feel the sun warming my head and shoulders and an October breeze chilled my bones. I could smell the bonfires, taste the candy, feel and hear the leaves crunching beneath my feet. I hope for some sort of proper release for 3DTT, because I know many people who would love something like this.
Assuming Mr. Langen is around my age or younger, he shows incredible promise and I, for one, cannot wait to see what he has rattling around inside his twisted head. Torin Langen is the type of filmmaker that can, does, and should inspire others to get out and make their art. And 3 Dead Trick or Treaters is proof that he’s making his.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/215448988″>3 Dead Trick or Treaters (2017) – Official Trailer</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user9519385″>Torin Langen</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>